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Authors: Elena Stowell

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Flowing with the Go

BOOK: Flowing with the Go
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Flowing with the Go

A Jiu-Jitsu Journey of the Soul

Elena Stowell

Flowing with the Go: A Jiu-Jitsu Journey of the Soul
© 2012 Elena Stowell. All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, digital, photocopying, or recording, except for the inclusion in a review, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Limit of Liability/Disclaimer of Warranty: All effort has been made to ensure accuracy and ownership of all included information. While the publisher and author have used their best efforts in preparing this book, they make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of this book and specifically disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. No warrant may be created by sales representatives or written promotional materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation. The publisher is not engaged in rendering professional services, and you should consult a professional where appropriate. Neither the publisher nor the author shall be liable for any loss of profit or any other damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential or other damages incurred as a result of using the techniques contained in this book or any other source it references.

Published in the United States by BQB Publishing
(Boutique of Quality Books Publishing Company)

Printed in the United States of America

ISBN 978-1-937084-62-2 (p)
ISBN 978-1-937084-63-9 (e)

Library of Congress Control Number: 2012938490

Book design by Robin Krauss,
Cover illustration by Leah Jennings
Back cover photo by Holly Holman

To my heart, Carly,
who continues to inspire the world,
here on earth and there in heaven.

A portion of proceeds from this book will go to the
Carly Stowell Foundation
for Education in Athletic and Music Performance

“The mission of the Carly Stowell Foundation is to provide enhanced education in athletics and music to young people who demonstrate passion for learning and a commitment to excel.

“We support individualized instruction and group activities that include teams and ensembles, develop potential and leadership, teach responsibility, and foster creativity and expression.”

Do what you love, love what you do.




It's Okay To Cry . . .

1. Filet of Soul

2. Family Mug Shot

3. Fresh off the Couch

4. My Rubber Room

5. Lucky Charms of Remembrance

6. Off the Couch and on the Mat

7. It Really is a Journey

8. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu 101

9. White Belt Blues

10. Coach and His Guns

11. Earning My Stripes

12. Cookie Love

13. The Big Easy Roll

14. One Numb Duck

15. This Only Happens to Other People

16. Takedowns, Breakdowns

17. The Choke

18. Stay Connected to the Earth

19. Biochemistry

20. Toleration

21. Just Breathe

20. Celebrate Small Victories

23. Believe in the Goodwill of Your Instructor

24. Leave Your Ego in the Gym Bag

25. Go with the Flow

26. Echo of Unanswered Questions

27. Butterflies

28. Succeed Not Cede

29. O Ye of Little Faith

30. My Secret Life

31. Hello Worlds

32. Worlds Apart

33. World's Greatest Food Stories

34. No What-ifs

35. Elena Anew

On June 17th, 2011, I was promoted to a blue belt in Jiu-Jitsu.

Glossary of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Common Terminology


Rollmates and Soulmates

In Retrospect and Thanks

Lifesavers, All Flavors


his manuscript is rooted in a mother's love for her daughter and what happens to that mother when the daughter is gone. Four and a half years ago, my daughter Carly passed away suddenly, before my eyes. And that is where this journey begins.

In many ways, this is a story about grief, but it also is a story of resiliency, self-discovery, and the healing power of belonging.

Carly and I shared a great deal of time together—supporting her basketball career and musical pursuits, molding her dreams, and, well, everything that goes along with having a teenage daughter. After she was gone, I didn't find joy in basketball, in hopes and dreams, or in me.

So it was a surprise to many people—and no one more than me—that I found joy in a sport that previously I knew nothing about: Jiu-Jitsu.

Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art that practices the grappling aspect of hand-to-hand combat. It was both physically and mentally challenging. I found muscles I never knew I had, and I found out that many of the spiritual tenets that underpin Jiu-Jitsu provided just the right spiritual guidance I needed to work through my grief. I also found a gym that was filled with people who accepted me “as is” and never gave up on me, even when I gave up on myself.

In this story, I introduce the people who made an impact on my journey: my coach James Foster, who is the owner of the gym and a second-degree black belt, my other coaches at the gym, my friends, my doctors, my family. Through the sparring sessions that became a part of my journey—both in and out of the gym—I have been able to piece together what I hope to be a map of my traveled path and promise for the future. The antics herein are at times garnished with my sophomoric sense of humor and, at other times, with an immense depth of frustration and sorrow.

Working out is so similar to working through grief. In my manuscript, I share openly and honestly my emotional rollercoaster. Tied into that rollercoaster are the contributions of my grief therapist and my naturopath, without whom I could not have found a way to move forward when the obstacles seemed insurmountable. It is my hope that my readers will find inspiration in these words and find comfort that they are not alone with their own feelings of loss.

My tale concludes with my training for and participating in the World Championships—and getting back into the GO of life—hence,
with the Go
. Sometimes the key to survival and renewal is found in the most unlikely of places.



he first day Elena stepped into my school, I had no knowledge
of the tragedy that had fractured her life—a horrible event
which in a roundabout way led her to seek out training in
martial arts and, through apparently random events, to my school. My
first meeting with Elena showed me a person who, like most students
who are new to the mats, needed direction and guidance. I had no idea
how much, until my assistant coach and close friend Rick (or Brick
as you will come to know him) informed me of the tragedy Elena had
recently endured.

Elena didn't know that I knew, not for a long time; in fact, it was she
who would finally come to me with her sorrowful tale. And even though
it was not common knowledge between us at first, I always kept her
situation at the forefront of my instructing Elena. Every word that I
chose, the way it was spoken, and the manner in which I instructed her
was tempered by my knowledge of her tragedy and what I felt was the
best approach to help her become whole again. In my heart, I knew that
she could live again and that the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu would be a
major factor in her rebirth.

I've been humbled and honored to have witnessed Elena's transformation
and strength. I am proud of her, her dedication, her hard work. To have
played a small role in helping her persevere and accomplish many of
her goals, I am also transformed. To see her smiling, to witness her joy
of life again, is a gift for all of us who know her.

Elena, you are a true inspiration to me, and I look forward to the day
that I promote you to the rank of black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. You
have only scratched the surface of your true potential. Remember: “A
Black Belt is a White Belt who never quit” !

With Love,

James Foster
Owner and Head Coach
Foster Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

It's Okay To Cry . . .

artial arts training benefits the body, the mind, the soul,
without a doubt. But there is something even deeper about
the sport . . . it draws kindred spirits.

As a coach and reverent student of the sport, I firmly believe the art
form draws in and captures people who need to be there, as it did with

Many times, the whole experience is like walking in the right door at the
right time and meeting the right person at the perfect moment.

When I first met Elena, I remember most vividly wanting to stop her
tears, to erase her fears, to help her heal. We all did. I believe that's why
she was sent to Foster's, a life-changing moment guised as an apparent
random act through an Internet search.

Perhaps for Elena, the darkness will never fully go away, the wound
will never fully heal, and the pain found within her heart and soul will
always be there!

But through Jiu-Jitsu and her teammates and coaches, her spirit is
certainly fortified anew, her mind has learned to handle the emotions,
and her body is strong. She has regained control of Elena.

And she also has learned this important life lesson: “It's okay to cry,
just not on the mat!”

Coach Rick Geist
Foster Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Filet of Soul

“Grief is better shared in the light.
Standing in the dark speaks of guilt.”

— Wonder Woman
Comic book #226, author Greg Rucka

s it good for your soul?” My organic, benevolent, and intellectual friend Susan asked me this question after I spent an afternoon explaining that the bruises on my arms were from my new hobby, Jiu-Jitsu.

I stared at her and shrugged my shoulders. I had not taken the time to think deeply about why I had gravitated toward a sport that appeared rather aggressive. Why did I walk into that padded, red-and-black martial arts gymnasium? It wasn't like I woke up one day, cast my knitting needles aside, and announced, “Today I'm gonna take up combat sports.” I had never before participated in a martial art—or any individual sport, for that matter. I didn't watch Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) on television. I didn't know what a gi was. I also didn't know that I had walked into that gym to see if I could live fully again.

BOOK: Flowing with the Go
12.8Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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